While Ichigo’s Hollow side takes on Muramasa, back in Soul Society, Renji and Shuuhei continue to struggle in battle against their own respective Zanpakutou. Shuuhei was already at odds with Kazeshini because they have different fighting styles, and he decides that he doesn’t mind if his Zanpakutou dies and disappears. Renji, on the other hand, has to deal with the Zabimaru duo calling him weak, and he’s unable to do much against them on his own. They know that he’s afraid of destroying his own power, and as he gets beat up, Renji finally remembers Byakuya and the reason he fights. Determined to become stronger and refusing to lose, Renji surprises the duo by successfully releasing his sword into its shikai form. Ichigo meanwhile watches as Muramasa decides that his Hollow side should just be gotten rid of, and since Muramasa isn’t able to win by normal fighting, he uses his special ability to disable Ichigo’s Hollow side. Ichigo notices from the reflection on the building that Muramasa is actually using invisible bindings to keep his Hollow side down, and he decides to step in and save his Hollow side since it’s a part of him. He also makes it clear that he’s not a Shinigami – he’s a human – and he then forces Muramasa out of him. Opening his eyes back in Soul Society, Ichigo is determined to get Zangetsu back, and like Renji, he refuses to lose.
There were some fairly good action sequences this episode, and I like how they’re developing each of the confrontations around different themes related to each individual Shinigami. I certainly agreed with the fact that Renji has been pretty weak, especially when you compare how he’s been portrayed in the main story to the levels that Ichigo has been able to attain, and so I was surprised to see that Renji was the first one (not including Ichigo of course) to be able to initiate shikai without his Zanpakutou spirit. Maybe this means that the spirits aren’t completely gone or something. Regardless, that plus the parallel lines between Renji and Ichigo made for a great way to end the episode on a high note, and I’m looking forward to next week’s episode. The preview didn’t really reveal much, but as I mentioned last week, next week will supposedly show some new form of Ichigo’s Getsuga Tenshou.